How to Tie a French Knot

What's a French Knot?

Unrelated to a French kiss, a French knot is a type of knot which uses only one hole in your fabric and leaves a "dot" or knot behind.

It's used in embroidery and cross-stitch to create small dots. Since the shapes you can make with a needle and thread in embroidery and particularly cross-stitch are limited to variations on a short line, having a "dot" option is very handy.

This tutorial is for what I call the "quick and dirty French knot" because it's not a proper French knot. In this version, you only make one loop. For a proper French knot, I think you're supposed to do a double loop. But it's a step up from making a simple quarter-stitch, which I've also done to avoid doing "real" French knots, and means you don't have to buy and store a whole bunch of seed beads (the other common alternative to making French knots in cross stitch). 

Cross stitch sometimes needs more than lines!
Cross stitch sometimes needs more than lines!

Step 1: Anchor the thread

My first instinct is to bring the needle to the right side of the fabric, make a knot, and pull it through. Instead, run the needle and thread under a couple of stitches on the wrong side of the piece before pulling it through the fabric.

Step 2: Loop around the thread

Most French Knot instructions say to wrap the thread around the needle twice and pull back through the fabric. This basically makes a spiral, which my needle (and thread) go all the way through, leaving no knot.

Instead, I start by making a single loop with the thread, using the needle as its center.

Step 2 Photo: Loop around the thread

Loop your thread around the needle.
Loop your thread around the needle.

Step 3: Twist the loop

Twist the loop and poke the needle through the "back" side of the loop. You are basically making a loop, twisting it once, and using that twist as the knot. 

Step 3 Photo: Twist the Loop

Twist the loop to pull through.
Twist the loop to pull through.

Step 4: Finish the knot

Tug gently on the loop of the thread, keeping it a little taut while you pull the needle through to the other side of the fabric. On the last millimeter or so (1/8"), let go of the loop to make it a nice thick knot. French knots easily pull through to the other side of the fabric if they're too tight, and then you have to start over!

Step 4 Photo: Finish the Knot

Finish the knot
Finish the knot

Comments 1 comment

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moonlake 7 years ago from America

Good information. I always have a little trouble doing french knot. This helped.

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